For the past few week’s I’ve been going back and forth as to where I should start on Football Manager. At first I was going to start in Brazil with my mandatory Santos save but I then decided that this year, I wanted to do something slightly different so decided against that idea. So it might come as a surprise to you that I decided to start with Sheffield United. Playing as the Blades isn’t exactly different but what I have in mind is different for what I normally do and how I play the game. Usually I start at a club and never move around, I stay at that club forever and if I fancy a new saved game, I normally just start a new game rather than move clubs.
This year though, I’m starting with Sheffield United and then when I start feeling I need a change or getting bored I’ll look at moving clubs. More often than not I always get bored in England after a while due to how easy it becomes with all the money available. I’ll be here for a while initially though as I want at least three Champions League titles before I consider walking away!
It’s been quite some time since I wrote about training in any kind of depth. I think the last time was probably three years ago when I did the Ajax project stuff for FM14 I think it was. Which was some of the best stuff I’ve ever written. So I thought it might be time to revisit training and see what has changed during those three years while at the same time, showing you my own approach to training and how I make the best of it. During the series you can expect to see;
- Tutoring - I'll explain why I'm tutoring and document any personality changes.
- Player development - I'll be tracking this really closely as I develop all players to be the best they can.
- Re-training - No doubt I'll change a few players positions to suit the tactical framework they'll be playing in. This is a big aspect of the game for me.
- Moulding players - This will focus on creating the types of players I’ll need for how I’ll be playing. I won’t be creating your typical players and will require many different types of players who might play the role within my tactic differently to what you might expect.
- The tactic - I'll mention in-depth what I’m using, how and why it works. Also I will be talking about how training and player development all fits in with the system I use and how it's all linked together.
- Staff Choices - This will include hiring and firing and what attributes to look for to get the best out of the players you have.
When I originally wrote the Ajax project it was a little rushed and while I feel it’s still the best work I’ve done, I know I can do much better and have many regrets about what I didn’t include. So think of this as the new improved version of that with even more depth to it hopefully. I have much more planned than is highlighted above though.
I want to dive straight into the save and save the detailed posts for once this introduction is out-of-the-way. But I also want to share what I do when I take over a club. I’ll not really do an introduce the squad type post, the next article in this series will be straight into the deep end and be a more in-depth look at a certain aspect that I’ll choose once the game is out on the 10th.
The first day at the club is one of the most important throughout my stay at a club, it’s a time for setting the foundations for how I want the club to be and more importantly, setting up a playing philosophy and style. Now a lot of people might think this means focusing on the tactical side more but for me it’s not about that just yet and I have other steps that are more important to begin with. So I thought I’d do a quick post explaining my steps as soon as I’m made the manager.
These can be downloaded via this link;
The first thing I do on the game after being announced the manager is to create a set of custom views. I do this even before attending any board meeting or anything. It literally is the first thing I do because it takes a while to set up but it’s something I can benefit from straight away. I tend to use lots of these and I really do mean lots, maybe 30+ the deeper I get into a save. But to start off with I keep things simple and just have a few at the beginning. I should also point out that I’m not saying these are the best ones to use but rather they suit my needs perfectly. I’m showing you these just as a guide to give you an idea of how you might want to set these up for you and your needs on the game. These are all the ones I have to start with, then as the season progresses I’ll create a few more to give me variety for a variety of other things but these are the main ones for now;
This screen is my defensive one and is set up to show me who in the side is doing the defensive side of things like interceptions and the frequency of them. I also have the attributes showing in all of the screens like this, so I can have a quick overview of why someone might have a lower percentage for a particular aspect. If I can't see it being linked to attributes then I know I might have to look into things slightly deeper.
Exact same as above but this time for my attackers to keep track of who is taking shots and the frequency of those shots. I’ll be playing with the aim of getting 50% of all shots on target so this is likely to be one of my main focuses and something I’ll be using a lot of during the season. I want to see if I am being wasteful or not and this provides a great overview.
Again similar to the above two views but this time focusing on who the creative players are in the side and who is using the ball wisely and who isn’t. These views might make more sense to you when the analysis part of the articles are written up as they’ll show why I analyse something based on what these screens tell me.
The above custom view is the one I use for selecting who will play the next match, this is my match day screen. It’s nothing special and just has all the info on I need to see who is playing well, fit enough and so on.
One of the simpler screens, this one just focuses on injuries and everything linked to it.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the squads happiness so you can see if anyone is thinking about leaving the club or just trying to spot unrest as early as possible. This screen offers me everything to do with that side of the game.
The main overview screen for my players development. This allows me to see who is focusing on what and keeps me up to date with things. It also makes it very easy for me to switch things up, which I do frequently as you’ll find out in the player development articles.
At the start of every new game or season this is the most important screen I have for the next six weeks or so. I can see who is needing game time and might need extra matches. Preseason is all about player fitness for me and it’s important everyone starts the season fully prepared and match fit. If not then I’ve failed and wasted time so this screen is vital for keeping track of every player.
Once those are out-of-the-way the next thing I do before attending any board or staff meetings is to arrange friendlies. Depending on how you approach or view pre season this part will vary for everyone. But for myself, I like to use it to get everyone fit before the very first competitive game and to build up morale and tactical familiarity. So to achieve this I play a lot of friendlies against weaker opposition. I personally don’t see the point of playing tough opposition instead I choose the steamroller options and select to play against the weakest teams possible. The results themselves are not that important but I want easy games as this helps with morale and means I can give everyone game time no matter what their ability is like.
I tend to select 7+ friendlies if time allows. This way I can work on player familiarity (instead of tactical familiarity it's all linked to the individual player now). Obviously if you bring in new faces this will take slightly longer. So I always try to use my time wisely when it comes to arranging friendlies. My current list of friendlies looks something like this;
Obviously those games have already been played because I’m writing this part after playing rather than before starting the game. In an ideal world and time permitting I’d have played closer to 11 or 13 due to the size of my squad. The bigger the squad the harder it is to give everyone the game time needed to get match fit.
Once I've arranged the friendlies the next step is to alter the training for pre season. I won't go into details here because I plan on doing an extensive post about this instead but for a simple overview it goes like this for me;
General/Match training slider - Set to the far left which means it's a 50-50 split. This is vital if you want tactics to reach fluid.
Match training - Set it to tactics, it's all that is important. If you don't want to get tactic familiarity fluid then you can select what you like here. But if you do want high tactic familiarity in the fastest way possible then this must be set to match tactics.
General training - If I have new players in the squad it will be set to team cohesion for almost the entirety of preseason due to me trying to gel those players into the team as fast as possible. If I didn't have any new players in the squad then I'd just leave it on balanced.
So it would look something like this;
Then it's onto one of the more important aspects of my save, the staff at the club. I'll also be doing a detailed post on this in the next couple of days. But I look through the staff and try to identify where I need to strengthen and who I might need to get rid of. This includes every single member of staff at the club as it’s important I can rely on them. I’m ruthless with staff and will always upgrade and get the best people I can into the club. Whether than be short-term or long-term, changes are nearly always made. How many changes I made tend to relies on the people I can attract to the club and finances available to me.
Then I attend the board and staff meetings to get a feel of everything and to see if I need to alter the board philosophies. If I’m being really lazy I can also instruct my staff to take control of the things I dislike like team talks etc. This isn’t something I do though as I like to be in full control.
I always have a tactical vision in my mind before starting as it will make things easier. Again this is something I will be expanding on in great detail. But in order to keep with what I do on the opening day, I select my shape and the settings I think I’ll be using. So I create a base of sorts so the team can be training it. This year I’ll be going for a 352 loosely based on Sheffield United in real life, this is likely to be wrote about at the weekend and will be a big discussion about how I create it, how I think it’ll work and then comparisons to how it actually functions. It will also focus heavily on the player roles and show what the players actually do on the pitch.
Once all of the above is done I then look at every single player at the club and decide which squad they should be, what I see their future as and to decide how I’ll train them. I’ll also try to identify what areas I might need to bring reinforcements in and then I can begin searching for those players.
This is the thing I leave while last because it’s the part that probably takes me the longest to set up. I normally set up my scouts to scout the regions I want or for the type of players I need. Alongside this I also like to manually scout clubs and this can be very time-consuming. For example, in my current save I’ve spent 8 hour manually scouting many clubs looking for bargains who I might bring into the club to strengthen certain areas.
That’s about it for the first day at the club I think although me being me, I’ll have missed something very important here!
I just wanted to get the boring stuff out-of-the-way before I dived straight into the more length interesting posts. In the next post I’ll talk about my recruitment and show who I brought in and explain why, to give you a real insight into how I play the game. I will also link it to the tactic I am using and speak about that too as my recruitment and tactic goes hand in hand. Depending on how the article shapes up it might include something on player development too unless the article is dragging on. Then that would be a separate article.